The Way We Were?: The Myths and Realities of America's Student Achievement

The Way We Were?: The Myths and Realities of America's Student Achievement

by Richard Rothstein
     
 

According to conventional wisdom, American public schools have suffered a terrible decline and are in need of dramatic reform. Today's high school students, it is alleged, display an ignorance of things that every elementary student knew a generation ago. American business leaders warn that rising illiteracy and "innumeracy" threaten our competitiveness in the

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Overview

According to conventional wisdom, American public schools have suffered a terrible decline and are in need of dramatic reform. Today's high school students, it is alleged, display an ignorance of things that every elementary student knew a generation ago. American business leaders warn that rising illiteracy and "innumeracy" threaten our competitiveness in the global marketplace. Political scientists worry that poor schooling is undermining the very foundations of our democracy as American adults exercise their citizenship on the basis of dumbed-down sound-bites. But are things really that bad? What evidence are these criticisms based on, and does it hold up under examination? In this book, Richard Rothstein analyzes the statistical and anecdotal evidence and shows that public schools, by and large, are not falling down on the job of educating our children. To the contrary, by many measures they are doing better than in the past. Minority students have improved their test scores significantly, and overall dropout rates have fallen. Moreover, our schools educate more poor children, and more children whose native language is foreign, than ever before. Further improvement in American education, Rothstein argues, should be based on an accurate appraisal of strengths and weaknesses rather than on exaggeration. Rothstein shows in convincing detail how standardized tests comparing American students' performance today with that of the past, and with student performance internationally, frequently confuse apples with oranges. The nation's student population today is very different from that of decades ago and from the student population in other nations. As critics of public education promote private alternatives and politicians debate the value of standardized national testing, The Way We Were? is especially timely.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Shows that there is no evidence for contemporary claims of school failure and traces the long history of myths of declining achievement in public education. Presents evidence that America's schools are performing as well as or better than in the past, and looks at reasons for the persistence of public perceptions of a failed education system. Provides an overview of statistical methods currently in use for examining school performance, and gives insight into topics such as social promotion, teaching of phonics, and bilingual education. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780870784170
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
09/28/1998
Pages:
136
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and senior fellow of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law. He is the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (Teachers College Press and EPI, 2008) and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (Teachers College Press 2004).

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